Sustainable Client Centric Business Growth with H2H


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In the early 2000s, McDonald’s was facing declining sales and customer satisfaction due to increased competition from other fast food chains and changing consumer preferences. To turn the business around, McDonald’s management held a series of meetings with its franchisees to listen to their concerns, empathize and gather their input. These meetings allowed franchisees to share their perspectives and ideas for improving the business, which were then incorporated into McDonald’s strategic plan. The result was a revitalization of the brand, with a renewed focus on customer satisfaction, menu innovation, and store renovation.

By bringing together stakeholders, such as clients, franchisees, vendors and having open and honest conversations, companies can find common ground, gather new ideas, and find solutions to challenges that are facing the business.

H2H Defined

H2H (Human to Human) interaction is a term used to describe the personal and direct communication between employees and customers, as well as between employees and other stakeholders.

This interaction is different from traditional business relationships in that it emphasizes the importance of personal and emotional connections between people. It recognizes that people are more than just customers or employees, but are individuals with their own needs, desires, and perspectives. Thus, H2H interaction values empathy, authenticity, and active listening, and it encourages employees to treat customers and other stakeholders as people, rather than just transactions.

Businesses are businesses, with no single-face/persona like an individual consumer. So in B2B, creating Human-to-Human (H2H) connection becomes a pivot for building trust and fostering collaboration with clients, ultimately leading to business growth and success.

On the contrary, the merger between Daimler-Benz and Chrysler in 1998 was a major business transaction that was hailed as a win-win situation for both companies. However, the lack of attention to human-to-human (H2H) relationships and cultural differences between the two companies was a major factor in the eventual failure of the merger. Despite the companies’ complementary product portfolios and compatible strategies, the merger was plagued by a lack of trust, communication, and collaboration between the employees of the two companies.

This failure to approach the merger in an H2H way resulted in missed opportunities for collaboration and increased competition between the two companies, rather than the intended synergies. Eventually, Daimler-Benz sold its controlling stake in Chrysler in 2007, and the two companies went their separate ways.

In my book, The Client Centric Protagonist, I have covered H2H in detail.

The famous Camp David Accords, a peace agreement between Israel and Egypt that was signed in 1978 is yet another example of H2H in play. The Accords were the result of H2H negotiations between Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, who met at Camp David, the presidential retreat in Maryland, for 13 days of intensive negotiations.

The H2H negotiations allowed Begin and Sadat to build a personal relationship and understand each other’s perspectives, which was critical in overcoming the many obstacles to a peace agreement. The result was a historic agreement that ended the state of war between Israel and Egypt and paved the way for peace in the region.

Litmus Test for H2H

Ask yourself,

  • How much do you use H2H in your client interactions?
  • How much do you know about your clients?
  • Are your interactions merely cordial and transactional?
  • Are there emotions involved?
  • Is there a role for empathy in your relationship with clients? Can you increase or augment it in another way?

H2H as a Game Changer

Now, Nordstrom is a name that is synonymous with Customer Experience (CX). But in the early 2000s, Nordstrom was facing declining sales and customer satisfaction due to a lack of personalization and poor customer service.

To turn the business around, Nordstrom put a strong emphasis on H2H interaction and customer service. The company trained its employees to provide personalized experiences for customers and empowered them to make decisions on the spot to resolve customer issues. For example, Nordstrom employees were given the authority to process returns and exchanges without a receipt, provide customers with free alterations, and offer discounts to resolve customer complaints. These H2H interactions allowed Nordstrom to build strong relationships with its customers and improve customer satisfaction.

The result was a significant improvement in sales and customer satisfaction, which helped turn the business around. Nordstrom’s focus on H2H interaction and customer service became a key differentiator for the company and helped it stand out in a competitive market.

Tony Hsieh & Zappos

Tony Hsieh, the former CEO of Zappos, is widely recognized as a pioneer of the H2H approach in business. Hsieh believed that the key to success in business was creating a strong culture and positive customer experience, and he put these principles into practice at Zappos. Under his leadership, Zappos became known for its customer-centric culture, focus on employee happiness and well-being, and commitment to delivering happiness to customers.

Tony Hsieh’s approach to business was centered on the belief that happy employees lead to happy customers, and that this, in turn, leads to a successful company. He emphasized the importance of personal connections and strong relationships in the workplace, and encouraged his employees to treat each other and their customers with kindness, empathy, and respect.

Tony Hsieh’s H2H approach to business helped make Zappos one of the most successful and innovative companies in its industry, and he is widely recognized as a thought leader and role model for other business leaders. His legacy continues to inspire many in the business community to prioritize the human-to-human relationships and cultural factors that drive success in their organizations.

Unfortunately Tony died at a very young age.

H2H for sustainable business growth

From the stories above, I’ve jotted down some key advantages of infusing H2H connection in B2B interactions with clients and partners that directly contributes to sustainable business growth:

  • Build trust with key stakeholders faster and influence decision making
  • Prevent unpredictable client attrition and revenue loss
  • Effective account mining and account intelligence
  • Deliver emotional value to stakeholders
  • Improve negotiating power
Nilakantasrinivasan J
Nilakantasrinivasan J (Neil) (born 1974) is an Indian author, consultant and guide, focused on the subject of client centricity, B2B client centric business growth, business transformation & analytics. He is the author of 3 books, The Client Centric Protagonist, The Master Book for Lean Six Sigma & A Little Book for Customer Experience. He founded a professional services firm Canopus Business Management Group ( More details are available at


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